Sunday, February 18, 2007

Corn Crisis

Once again the State interferes in the marketplace and prices jump on commodities exchanges.

In the U.S. George Bush announced subsidies for bio-fuels not once but twice in State of the Union addresses.

And while he talked about switchgrass and other waste material based biomass, no funding opportunities have been created to subsidize this.

Instead bio-fuel announcements have fed the monopoly agribusiness oligopolies like ADM, who specialize in corn and wheat based ethanol production.

In Canada part of the Governments Green Plan and its efforts to undermine the Wheat Board was to announce subsidies for ethanol production.

While the only existing wheat straw based bio-fuel company in the world with new technology, remember that new technology that the government talks about is going to solve the global warming crisis, can't find anywhere to pedal its technology in Canada and is looking for investors. Just as its American counterparts are.

Meanwhile in Mexico tortilla prices have skyrocketed on ethanol speculation as corn is transformed from a basic food stuff into a fuel for financial speculation.

In Canada and the United States the increase in corn speculation has led to higher costs for pig farmers.

Bio-fuels are not a green solution, in fact they are not ecological at all, but a way to subsidize big Agribusiness like ADM and the financial markets. The only green about them is greenbacks.

And their impact on climate change and global warming will be minimal since they only blend with existing fossil fuels not replace their use.

Last year Mexico had the largest corn harvest in its history – more than twice as much as in 1980. Yet the price of tortillas has doubled and in some regions tripled over the past few months.

Corn is a key ingredient in poultry feed because of its high energy yield and increasing demand for ethanol has nearly doubled the price of corn over the past year. Corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade traded in the $2.20-per-bushel range one year ago; now they go for over $4.00. Corn is also an important component in hog feed. However, Hormel was able to keep costs in check in this area because it uses outside farmers to raise hogs, unlike its turkey operations, which are in-house. This deflected some of the higher costs to the contractors, explained Agnese

An explosion in U.S. production of corn-based ethanol has strained supplies of the grain for human and animal consumption. Making ethanol from inedible feedstocks such as bagasse, grasses, and agricultural waste could be a better way, but commercial success has been elusive despite years of efforts.

In fact, in the fall of 1998, Celunol, then called BC International, announced plans to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in Jennings with Department of Energy assistance. The plant was never built, a spokesman says, because the company wasn't able to secure the rest of the financing.

Today, Celunol has competition in the race to build the first cellulosic ethanol plant. The enzymes company Iogen operates a small wheat-straw-based facility in Canada and is scouting locations for a larger plant.

Kansas became America’s top wheat grower, regularly producing close to one-fifth of the country’s total harvest. With their sheaves of wheat, called shocks, stacked upright everywhere in the fields to dry, wheat became so ingrained in the Kansas mind-set that Wichita State University adopted the name Shockers for its mascot.

But in the last two decades, farmers have increasingly turned to corn and soybeans, which need nearly twice as much water.

“That part of the state is going to be out of water in about 25 years at the current rate of consumption,”
said Mike Hayden, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and a former Kansas governor.


Real Costs of Bio-Fuels

Conrad Black and ADM

Bio Fuels = Eco Disaster

GMO News Roundup

BioFuel and The Wheat Board

The Ethanol Scam: ADM and Brian Mulroney


Wheat Board


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Mike said...

You may be right about most bio-fuels that are meant to replace gasoline in gasoline engines (ethanol etc), but the production of oil for use in diesels should be much better, in fact being able to use untreated used French-fry oil, an existing waste product. In fact, the diesel engine was originally designed to run on vegetable oil.

I am still worried about ADM, but imagine if local farmers could produce their own diesel substitute on their own farms...highly decentralized business run by those that own the land and the machinery.

eugene plawiuk said...

You are correct if we had collective farming and production which was ecologicial, that is it produced food products, grains, sugar beets (nah forget those to water intensive) herbs, oil plants, etc. and then used the straw and waste for ethanol then I would agree.